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Can Sleeping on an Air Mattress Hurt Your Back?

Sleeping on an air mattress can hurt your back if it does not give great support and alignment for the entire spine. However, by getting a high-quality air mattress with a customizable firmness level and considering your sleep position, you will comfortably sleep on your back and get the support you need without getting hurt.

Here, we shall dive into details on the causes of back pain linked to air mattresses and tips for reducing back pain while sleeping on an air mattress. Let’s get started.

Table of Contents

Causes of Back Pain Linked to Air Mattresses

back pain with sleeping on air mattress

Here are several causes of back pain linked to air mattresses. Have a look;

Lack of Support

Air mattresses generally have less support compared to traditional mattresses, which can be problematic for individuals with back issues. The lack of a solid foundation may result in poor spinal alignment, leading to discomfort or pain in the back.

Durability and Longevity

While some air mattresses are durable and long-lasting, others may deflate or develop leaks over time. A deflated air mattress can result in an uneven sleep surface, which can strain the back and contribute to discomfort.

Temperature Regulation

Air mattresses often have less breathability compared to traditional mattresses, which can lead to heat retention. Sleeping hot can cause discomfort and may impact the quality of your sleep, indirectly affecting your back health.

Motion Transfer

Air mattresses tend to have more motion transfer compared to traditional mattresses. This means that movements made by your sleep partner or even your own movements during the night may cause the mattress to shift, potentially leading to disruptions in sleep and discomfort in the back.

Inflatable Nature

inflated air mattress

Air mattresses are designed to be inflated and deflated, which means their firmness can vary based on personal preferences. However, the variability in firmness levels may not suit everyone’s needs, and an incorrect firmness setting can potentially strain the back muscles and exacerbate existing back problems.

What can I do to make sleeping on an air mattress more comfortable for my back?

Below are several tips you can maximize for reducing pain while sleeping on an air mattress;

1. Turn It into a Real Bed

Turning your air mattress into a real bed implies that you give it extra support than what is available. Many people think it’s all about adding sheets, blankets, pillows and comforters. However, that is not the case.

One of the ways to achieve this is to stop laying your mattress on a soft surface or carpet. Additionally, do not fix the mattress above another one since that won’t help you get the support and cushion your body requires.

Firstly, you will have to fix your air mattress on a bed frame. Also, if you have a small bedroom, you can use adjustable slats sets that can be available and offer support.

You can remove the slats during the seasons you want to remove the mattress. You may also get some bed frames at affordable prices, so just research and work with reputable sellers.

2. Use a Mattress Topper

Sometimes your air mattress might be too firm. However, the solution to it is adjusting its firmness levels by using a mattress topper. It will help you get more conforming support on your air mattress.

You will find various options of mattress toppers in the market. Some resemble mattress pads designed using wool or cotton. At the same time, others are much thicker and made of latex and memory foam.

If you need more support, you will have to get a thicker mattress topper. Mattress topper thickness starts from 2 inches, and there is more than 4 to 5.5 inches thick.

3. Inflate Frequently

You will get some air beds designed with electric or manual pumps, which you can use for deflation and inflation. The manual ones usually don’t come with the option to automatically detect, inflate and deflate the mattress to its original state. If your mattress lacks this option, you will start experiencing that your mattress does not feel supportive and firm as it used to.

You must frequently inflate it and check its surface for any potential ruptures. After a few days, ensure you inflate the mattress or check for any problems.

4. Opt for Vertical Air Chambers

You need to use the best air mattress whenever you are out camping or at home, hosting friends or guests. To get such, you must use vertical air chambers since they provide more balance and support.

They also sustain more upward air, implying they can hold your weight and evenly distribute the pressure points. The vertical chambers are quite pricey, but they will relieve you from pain and give your back the comfort it requires.

5. Adjust the Inflation Levels to Your Preferred Sleep Position

Sleep Position

It is vital to note that every sleeping position has its firmness levels. For instance, if you sleep on your side, you must use a softer mattress to get the needed contour.

If you are a stomach sleeper, firmer levels will work well since you won’t sink, and your spinal cord alignment will be excellent. However, this can be challenging, especially if your sleeping partner has alternative sleep preferences. But you can get some costly or more premium models offering separate air chambers for every side, making out a good choice for people who sleep on different sides.

6. Store Carefully

If you don’t use the air mattress regularly, you can store it well so that it serves you longer and more efficiently. All air beds are designed with convenient bags which you can put in the mattress when you are done deflating and folding. Other medically approved luxury air beds usually come with bed frames for storage.

Remember to get a mattress alongside patches specifically for repairing ruptures or a lasting warranty that enables you to replace the mattress when you experience any problems.


Can sleeping on an air mattress cause permanent damage to the back?

Sleeping on an air mattress for a prolonged period of time can potentially cause permanent damage to the back. Air mattresses lack the support and stability that a traditional mattress provides, which can result in an uneven distribution of weight on the body during sleep. This can lead to discomfort, pain, and even misalignment of the spine. 

Sleeping on an air mattress for a short period of time, such as for camping trips or temporary housing situations, may not cause any significant harm. However, it is recommended to use a proper mattress with adequate support for extended periods of sleep in order to avoid the potential for long-term back problems.

How long can I sleep on an air mattress without experiencing back pain?

It is difficult to determine an exact time frame for when back pain might occur when sleeping on an air mattress because it varies from person to person.

Factors such as the firmness of the air mattress, the individual’s sleeping position, and any preexisting back conditions can all contribute to back pain. Some people might be able to sleep on an air mattress for a few days without any problem, while others might experience discomfort within a few hours. 

It is generally recommended to maintain good posture while sleeping and to regularly change positions to help prevent back pain. It might also be helpful to consider adding a foam topper or other type of cushioning to the air mattress to provide additional support.

Can adding a mattress topper help alleviate back pain on an air mattress?

Yes, adding a mattress topper can help alleviate back pain on an air mattress. Air mattresses are notorious for lacking support which can lead to discomfort and back pain. A mattress topper such as memory foam, latex, or even a soft pillow-top can add additional support and cushioning to the air mattress, reducing the pressure on the back and increasing overall comfort. 

It’s important to choose a mattress topper that is the right thickness and firmness for your individual needs. Adding a mattress topper can be a cost-effective solution to improve the comfort and support of an air mattress, especially for those with back pain.

Should I consult a healthcare professional if I experience back pain on an air mattress?

Yes, it is advisable to consult a healthcare professional if you experience back pain on an air mattress. Air mattresses can be very different from traditional mattresses, and they may not provide the necessary support for your body. 

Back pain can also be caused by other underlying health conditions such as injuries or nerve problems, and a healthcare professional should be able to diagnose and treat these issues. It is important to seek medical attention if the pain is severe, persistent, or accompanied by other symptoms such as numbness or tingling in the legs.

Are air mattresses suitable for individuals with back problems?

Air mattresses may not be the best choice for individuals with existing back problems. The lack of support and potential variability in firmness levels can worsen back pain or discomfort. It is advisable to consult with a healthcare professional or sleep expert for personalized recommendations.

Are there specific types of air mattresses that are better for back health?

While there is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, certain types of air mattresses may provide better support for your back. Look for air mattresses with built-in support systems, such as individually adjustable air chambers or integrated foam layers. These features can enhance spinal alignment and overall comfort.

Should I consider alternative mattress options if I have back issues?

If you have chronic back pain or other back-related conditions, it may be worth considering alternative mattress options. Traditional mattresses, such as memory foam or hybrid mattresses, are designed to offer superior support and can be more suitable for individuals with back problems.

Consulting with a healthcare professional or sleep specialist can help guide you towards the right choice.

What are the signs that my air mattress is causing back discomfort?

If you experience any of the following signs, it may indicate that your air mattress is contributing to back discomfort:

  • Waking up with back pain that diminishes throughout the day.
  • Feeling achiness or soreness in the back after sleeping on the air mattress.
  • Noticing a lack of support or sinking sensation during sleep.
  • Difficulty finding a comfortable sleep position.


Sleeping on an air mattress can hurt your back if it is too soft or firm and deflates at night. Luckily, you can reduce back pain while sleeping on an air mattress by turning it into a real bed, using a mattress topper, inflating it regularly and storing your airbed properly.

Remember to invest in a good quality air bed and constantly adjust inflation levels to your preferred sleep position to get more contour and comfort your body deserves.

Author: Jessica

Jessica is a lover of both life and gardening. She loves to share his passion for both on social media. He often posts about his latest gardening projects, as well as tips and tricks for others who might be interested in starting their own gardens. She also frequently posts about the different aspects of his life that he enjoys, from spending time with friends and family to exploring new places.

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